Chronic Stress, a Cardiovascular Risk Factor, Linked to Societal Integration in Teenage Immigrants of African Descent
MetadataShow full item record
Session presented on Monday, July 27, 2015: Purpose: This study examines the nature of disparities in cardiovascular risk by exploring the impact that chronic stressors and other cardiovascular risk factors have on the integration of youth of African descent into an industrialized society. New immigrants must leaRNhe ways and culture of the new society before they can fully integrate into its fabric (i.e., cultural acquisition). Session presented on Monday, July 27, 2015: Methods: Qualitative data on cardiovascular risk and acclimation to the dominant society were collected from three groups of key informants: (1) community leaders; (2) youth; and (3) a community advisory group. Results: Youth of Ethiopian descent from immigrant families engaged in the same westeRNiets, computerized social networking, and habits in smoking and alcohol as did youth from the dominant society. However, informants of Ethiopian descent encountered and witnessed racism, institutional discrimination and evidence of devaluing Ethiopian culture, influencing the ability of youth from immigrant families to integrate into the society. Some youth were isolated. Often they had no friends outside the community. They referred to themselves as Ethiopian and the other youth as Israelis. One youth said, "I don't know many Ethiopians [youth] who have really good Israeli friends."' Another youth described being held back and having to work more than youth who were not from families of Ethiopian descent was evident, "Every time [a youth of Ethiopian descent] makes headway, always there is the stage that he gets grabbed and slapped, and grabbed and slapped, and then again has to retuRNome." Conclusion: In addition to the cardiovascular risks posed by fast food diets and a more sedentary life style (which youth adopted from the dominant society), youth of Ethiopian descent experienced chronic stress from pervasive discrimination, and the struggle to adjust to societal expectations. Such factors not only compounded the cardiovascular risk of youth from immigrant families, but also pushed them away from mainstream society and towards societal marginalization.